Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Weight Loss Tips from Dr. Oz

Let's be real, who doesn't gain a few pounds during the holidays? Despite my best intentions and the fact that Brandon and I had our engagement pictures Saturday that I wanted to look extra-svelte for, I've gained five pounds in the past month. Five pounds isn't a big deal but at only 5'3", it's a lot more noticeable on me than a woman standing at 6 feet.

Below are some great tips from my favorite Dr. Oz, who appeared on this morning's Good Morning America.


Keep a Food Diary, and Weigh Yourself
Oz always recommends that people keep track of what they eat, but said it was especially important at this time of year when people may be surrounded by temptations. A bite here and a taste there will add up, so document everything -- even if it's a spoonful of pudding or a single chocolate chip. This will help you think about what you're eating.

You should also make a date with your scale twice a week. Oz said he usually recommends that people weigh in once a week, but said people need to be more diligent over the holidays. Early detection of creeping weight gain can allow you to react quickly by throwing in an extra workout or passing on that second helping at your next meal.


Beware the Buffet and Those Passed Appetizers
Those buffets and appetizer trays present a tempting trap.

Oz recommends that you snack before you arrive at the party. That way, you'll be less likely to overindulge on those tempting little calorie-laden treats. His favorite snack is a small bag of nuts and low-fat string cheese. The nuts and cheese are high in protein, so they'll keep you filled well through the end of the party.

Avoid Homemade
If you're asked to bring a dessert to a party, Oz recommended that you buy something at your local bakery rather than baking it yourself.

He reasoned that if you baked it yourself the night before, you may be too tempted to sneak bites of the treat, but if you buy it on the way to the party, you won't have had that opportunity and you'll arrive with a much fresher dessert.

Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Fancy cocktails of any kind tend to be bad for your health, and holiday drinks are the worst of them all, Oz said. Eggnog, the most popular, has a whopping 450 calories per glass. That's the equivalent of nearly one full meal.

You can certainly indulge in one or two drinks but make sure they're healthy options, he said. He recommended that you stick to 100-calorie drinks. Any hard alcohol on the rocks or mixed with club soda will likely come in at under 100 calories, as will most light beers or a glass of wine, he added.

Even better, make a wine spritzer using half wine and half soda. That way, your 100 calories will last through two drinks.

Bear in mind that alcohol itself not only adds calories, but it lowers your inhibitions, making it more likely that you will reach for those diet-destroying buffet treats as the night goes on.

Alternate alcoholic beverages with a glass of water in order to remain hydrated, stave off hangovers and keep calories in check, he added.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Oatmeal Rolls

These are just plain GOOD. They're great for breakfast, as a snack or dessert.

Oatmeal Rolls

Ingredients
1 cup oatmeal (1/2 cup each quick and old-fashioned)
3 tablespoons soft margarine
2 cups boiling water
2 packages yeast, dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the oats and margarine. Stir and cool to lukewarm. Add sugars, salt and dissolved yeast to oatmeal mixture. Knead in the flour, a cup at a time. Allow dough to rise in a warm place for one hour. Punch down. Form into rolls and place in greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Allow to rise again for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Tips from the Test Kitchen
Tips From Our Test Kitchen: This is an excellent basic recipe for cinnamon rolls. Roll the dough out 1-inch thick after the first rising. Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll into a pinwheel and cut into 1 1/2-inch rolls. Bake and glaze with icing.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Belated Turkey Day!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Last week was crazy with all of the cooking and baking that needed to be done and I've been eating those delights for the past four days.

Starting tomorrow it's diet time as the engagement pics are set to be taken December 10th. Have a super Sunday evening!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quick, Easy Tips to Help You Avoid Overeating at Thanksgiving

Below are some great tips from Deborah Enos, who's weekly "Health in a Hurry" newsletter provides practical yet useful tips for staying healthy and losing weight.

Exercise in the morning. I always walk or jog on the day of a “food event”. The exercise will boost my endorphins, which gives me more control over my appetite throughout the day. Even 15 minutes of exercise can be helpful.

Protein in the morning. I eat a high protein breakfast on the day of an event. The protein will help to prevent sugar cravings later in the day. The protein will also fill up my tummy for a few hours, helping me to stay away from the appetizer tray. My favorite breakfast? An egg(s) and toast.

Eat a high fiber snack an hour before the meal. The fiber content will fill me up, allowing me to be more focused on friends than food. I will usually slice up an apple and snack on it as I’m getting ready.

Don’t wear pants that have an elastic waistband! Most of us will eat to “fill the space”, so wear pants with a belt.

I try to have a cup of hot herbal tea or decaf coffee in my hand. The hot liquid helps to kill my appetite. This allows me to slow down and really enjoy my food.

Drink enough water. I start my day with at least 8 ounces of water and I drink water throughout the day. Dehydration can enhance the feelings of “hunger”. So, staying hydrated can help you feel full. Not sure how much water you should be drinking? Look in the toilet bowl! Your urine should look almost clear. If your urine is dark orange, you are probably dehydrated (or you’ve just taken some vitamins).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Already?

This year has been a complete and total blur. Honestly, one minute I was picking out bathing suits for the summer and the next, I'm trying to figure out what the heck I'm supposed to make when both my family and my fiance's family come in town for Turkey Day. This is a lot of pressure people!

Of course the traditional turkey is in order but I'd really like to add some Texas/Southwest elements to the meal and I'm hoping to find as many low-calorie and heart healthy recipes as possible. Yes, I'm still going to indulge like none other but at least this way, I can indulge with less guilt.

Margarine will be in as many recipes as I can squeeze it into. Great taste, low in saturated fats and it always that extra something to my recipes. I'm actually thinking about making a variation of the chicken stuffed acorn squash below but stuffing it with some rice or something.

What are you making this year for Turkey Day?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Chicken-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Perfect for the Fall!

Chicken-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients
2 medium acorn squash (about 1 1/4 pounds each)
12 ounces ground raw chicken
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 5-ounce container light semi-soft cheese with garlic and herb
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup corn bread stuffing mix or 2 tbl fine dry breadcrumbs
1 tbl reduced-calorie margarine, melted

Instructions Halve squash lengthwise. Remove seeds; discard. Place squash, cut side down, in a 3 qt rectangular baking dish. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook chicken, onion and garlic till chicken is browned and onion is tender; drain off fat. Stir in vegetables, cheese and salt.
Turn squash cut side up and spoon in chicken mixture. Bake, loosely covered, 20 minutes more until squash is tender and filling is heated through. Stir together stuffing mix or crumbs and melted margarine; sprinkle over filling. Bake, uncovered, 3 minutes more. Serves 4

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eat Your Wheaties

This article is of significance to me because breakfast is by far my least favorite meal.


Not Eating Breakfast Can Increase Risk of Heart Disease By Health News Team • Oct 28th, 2010

In the modern world of school and work, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sit down at the table and have a nutritious breakfast before rushing out the door. However, The Daily Mail reports that a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that skipping breakfast can have long-term health consequences.

Paradoxically, it also puts individuals at a higher risk for obesity, because the body is compelled to store large fat deposits around the midsection. Cholesterol and blood sugar levels may also suffer from a lack of a morning meal.

The study assessed 2,184 children for 20 years and found that those who skipped breakfast were at a higher risk for all of these factors, which can lead to heart disease. Researchers speculated that the participants who didn't eat this crucial first meal went on to eat sugary snacks to compensate, replacing valuable and healthy foods with junk.

These volunteers were also found to have more irregular meal times in general, which can lead to an increase in snacking, and may even alter the way the body stores fat.

The Mayo Clinic states that those looking to reduce their risk of heart disease may want to eat more low-fat proteins, such as fish or skinless poultry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Emeril's Spicy Mixed Nuts

I'm taking a road trip with some girl friends this weekend and what's a road trip without snacks?

I always make sure to bring this spicy snack mix along becuase it's such a crowd pleaser. BAM!

Ingredients
•1 large egg white
•1 teaspoon water
•4 cups assorted shelled nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts)
•1/2 cup sugar
•2 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne
•1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and water until frothy. Add the nuts and toss to coat. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, Essence, cayenne, and salt. Add to the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Spread the nuts on the prepared pan and bake until dry, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to separate. Let cool on the baking sheet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
•2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
•2 tablespoons salt
•2 tablespoons garlic powder
•1 tablespoon black pepper
•1 tablespoon onion powder
•1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
•1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
•1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container. Yield: about 2/3 cup

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pretty in Pink

WH to become 'Pink' House' for Breast Cancer month

The White House is becoming the "Pink House" in recognition of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

President Barack Obama announced Thursday via Twitter that the building will be bathed in pink light. It will be for just one night.

The American Cancer Society says there are roughly 40,000 breast cancer deaths each year in the U.S.

Obama signed a proclamation at the beginning of the month designating October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Last October, the Obamas hung a large pink ribbon on the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Potato Soup

Mmm, as you can see I am majorly in Fall mode. This Fall Potato Soup is great on a cold day. I top it with crumbled turkey bacon and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Fall Potato Soup

10–12 small new red potatoes, or 4–5 medium-size
1 carrot, grated
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/4 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon flour
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Steam potatoes until very tender. Peel and cut into bite-sized pieces when cool. Saute carrot, onion and celery in the margarine until crisp tender. Stir in flour. Pour in chicken broth and milk and stir until smooth. Add potatoes and stir until mixture is lump-free. Heat until ready to boil, but not boiling. Serve topped with grated cheddar cheese and chopped green onions.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Fall into Good Health

Fall is finally here people! The leaves are turning, the air is crisper and people are taking their exercise outdoors. I've never understood those people that can run for miles and miles in the blistering heat. How do they DO that?!

Although I keep trying to convince myself otherwise, I'm not a runner. It hurts my knees, I get bored and all I can think about the whole time is, "When is this going to be over?"

But, when Fall hits I try exercise outdoors as much as possible. Whether it's taking a brisk walk around Town Lake in Austin or playing a friendly game of softball with pals, getting outside and burning off some steam is my absolute favorite!

What do you enjoy doing for exercise in the Fall?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Which Foods to Choose and Which to Lose

I love this really simple chart, courtesy of www.healthyfridge.org. It very simply breaks down which foods you should try to incorporate as often as possible into your diet and which foods should be consumed in moderation.


http://www.healthyfridge.org/choose.html

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Best Fried Items at State Fair of Texas

This week I have pleasure of attending the State Fiar of Texas for one of my clients. The State Fair of Texas is the nation's largest fair and is probably best known for its assortment of crazy fried items from fried butter to friend peanut butter & jelly. Check out this year's offerings courtest of the Dallas Morning-News - so gross!


The eight finalists in this year's Big Tex Choice Awards:

Fernie's Fried Club Salad
Who made it? Christi Erpillo

What is it? A 12-inch spinach wrap surrounding diced ham and chicken, shredded lettuce, carrot strips, tomatoes, sharp cheddar and bacon. Fried, then topped with deep-fried sourdough croutons and served on shredded romaine lettuce.

Deep Fried S'mores Pop-Tart
Who made it? Isaac Rousso

What is it? A Pop-Tart with a chocolate, peanut butter, s'mores flavor, battered and fried. Drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with whipped cream.

Fried Lemonade
Who made it? Tami Stiffler

What is it? Lemon-flavored pastry made with lemonade, baked, then fried. Glazed with a mix of lemonade, powdered sugar and lemon zest.

Texas Fried Caviar
Who made it? Allan Weiss

What is it? Black-eyed peas fried and laced with special spices, blended with Old Bay seasoning. Flavors: regular or spicy.

Texas Fried Frito Pie
Who made it? Nick Bert

What is it? Chili, accented with a hint of sharp cheddar, encased in Fritos. Battered and fried.

Deep Fried Frozen Margarita
Who made it? Jake Levy

What is it? Sweet funnel cake batter mixed with "margarita ingredients," either tequila or tequila-flavored wine. Fried, dusted with a lemon-lime mixture and served in a salt-rimmed plastic glass.

Fried Beer
Who made it? Mark Zable

What is it? Fried beer-filled pretzel pocket. Bite into it and the beer pours out, serving as a dipping sauce.

Fried Chocolate
Who made it? Abel Gonzales Jr.

What is it? White chocolate and a cherry stuffed into a brownie, dipped into chocolate cake batter and fried. Topped with powdered sugar and a cherry sauce and served with chocolate-flavored whipped cream.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Heart Healthy Foods Quiz

I have a complete obsession with taking online quizzes. "Is he your perfect mate?" "Are you a control freak? "What's your body type?" You name the quiz, I've probably taken it.

I usually consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition, especially heart healthy foods but this quiz got me a few times. It doesn't ask whether butter or margarine is better but really is this event a valid question? Margarine has significantly less fat overall as well as less saturated fat than butter and we all know those saturated fats are BAD news!!

Anyways, check out this quiz and see how you do.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

Who doesn't love cheesy chicken and noodles? This gal right here could eat it all day long.

Sure, it's not exactly calorie conscious but since it uses margarine instead of butter, at least it's a little more heart healthy.


Chicken Spaghetti

Ingredients
3 cups cooked chicken (I use chicken tenders)
1 12-ounce package thin spaghetti
3 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1 28-ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups Velveeta or similar product
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, cook chicken in boiling water until done. Drain, saving water. Chop chicken into small pieces. Add spaghetti to chicken water and cook until done, following directions on package. In another pan, melt butter and sauté celery and onion. Stir in pimento. Add chicken, soup, milk, Velveeta, salt, and pepper. Drain spaghetti and add to chicken mixture. Pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle Cheddar on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Serves 8 to 10 people.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Antioxidants in Berries May Support Heart Health

More good news on ways to protect your heart!

From Personal Liberty.com...

Cognitive decline is a problem that affects millions of people across the country each year. The financial and emotional toll that it takes on families and individuals is difficult to measure.

However, a new study from researchers at the Agricultural Research Service division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently found that the antioxidants in berries may be an effective way to support brain health as individuals age.

Berries — in particular strawberries, blueberries and raspberries — have long been known to be a rich source of antioxidants. Scientists believed that these nutrients could play an important role in brain health. However, specific, conclusive evidence had eluded researchers; until now.

The findings of the study show that antioxidants boost a process that sweeps the brain of proteins that are left over following normal brain activity. These proteins are thought to contribute to cognitive decline when they build up, becoming toxic.

"The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may [support brain health]," said Shibu Poulose, who led the study.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Black Bean Corn Salsa

I think my stomach is subconsciously aware that summer is coming to an end and because of this, I have been craving fresh fruits and veggies more in the past week than I did all summer. You just can't beat sweet corn on the cob, juicy watermelon and tart grapes on a hot day.

We went out on Lake Austin over the weekend and I brought the corn-black salsa below and it was a huge hit. The recipe calls it a salad and I guess you could eat it plan but it's much better with baked tortilla chips.

It's refreshing and low fat but has lots of tummy-filling fiber from the beans. I added some fresh jalapenos but of course you don't have to. I also omitted the avocado because I made it a day before to let all the ingredients combine and I didn't want brown avocado.

I know this recipe has nothing to do with margarine but it has a lot to do with being heart healthy so I decided to post it anyways!

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions
1.Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are well mixed.
2.In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing, and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing, and serve.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taking Advantage of Your Local Farmers Market

I'm loving this article!

Times changed, and we moved off the farm and away from big gardens.

Now times are changing back — sort of.

We’re no longer on the farm, but the farm seems quite willing to come to us.

The United States Department of Agriculture shows that the number of farmers markets nationwide has increased from 1,755 in 1994 to 6,132 in 2010 — a more than threefold increase.

So what to do with all that bounty? Try creating a meal prepared almost entirely with meat, produce, pasta and other items found at local markets.

It helps to have a plan, but the key to success is staying flexible. Go with the flow of what is available. Be willing to throw out some recipes in favor of others when the right ingredients suddenly become available.

And then there are those things that defy a recipe. They are just thrown together based on what the cook has on hand. Potatoes, green beans, onions, sweet corn and curry powder were combined in a slow cooker with some margarine and a little honey for sweetness.

Fresh Okra With Peanuts/Pecans
Adapted from “Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking”
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 pound fresh okra, stem ends removed
¼ cup peanuts or pecans, ground or coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup fresh cilantro

Heat oil in wok or large pan over medium heat. Add cumin seed and allow it to sizzle for 10 to 15 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until okra is tender.

Chicken/Turkey Basil

Adapted from Thaitable.com
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 to 7 Thai chile peppers (or substitute serrano peppers)
1 to 2 bunches of Thai basil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ pound ground chicken (or substitute ground turkey, whichever is available at the farmers market)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce

Mince garlic and peppers together. Clean and pick Thai basil leaves from the stem. It may look like a lot of leaves, but they will cook down.

Fry the garlic and peppers in oil over high heat. When garlic starts to turn brown, add the ground turkey. Stir constantly. Keep stirring until all the juice is gone. Add sugar and fish sauce. Then add Thai basil. Turn over a few times to mix the leaves with the meat and then remove from heat.

Serve with or without rice.

Blackberry Cobbler

Adapted from allrecipes.com
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold margarine
¼ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups fresh blackberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in ¼ cup of boiling water until the mixture is evenly moist.

In a separate bowl, dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup cold water. Mix in remaining 1 cup of sugar, lemon juice and blackberries. Transfer to skillet and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

The recipe calls for completion in the skillet. However, I transferred the berry mixture to a greased baking dish and dropped spoonfuls of dough onto the mixture.

Bake 25 minutes until dough is golden brown.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy National S'mores day!

From IslandPacket.com...

Sometimes a few simple ingredients combine to make something amazing -- something that makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside, something that reminds us of childhood summers, something that makes us smile and ask for, well, "some more" of that good stuff. It's no surprise, then, that the humble-but-mighty s'more has its own day.

Tuesday marked National S'mores Day, but we think the classic treat deserves a week's worth of celebration. Afterall, the s'more -- which, for those who are truly deprived, consists of a roasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers and chocolate -- has been around for a while, though no one knows who concocted the first gooey goody (a genius, to be sure). The first s'mores recipe popped up in the 1927 Girl Scout Handbook.

So grab a roasting fork, wire hanger, tree branch -- whatever -- and enjoy our homage to America's favorite fireside treat. Not planning to fire up the grill or go camping? We've included ways to enjoy s'mores sans fire, too.

• The must-eat munchie: Roasting marshmallows around a fire to use for s'mores is among the most popular "good, clean, wholesome family fun" activities enjoyed at Hunting Island State Park, said Paula Berube, retail manager of Hunting Island State Park Camp Store.

Each week between March and September, Berube, who orders the store's merchandise, said it's a challenge to keep s'mores staples in stock. On any given week, the store sells about 100 plain Hershey bars, 50 bags of marshmallows and 20 boxes of graham crackers, she said.

If the store's out of plain chocolate bars, Berube and other store staffers suggest that their customers branch out. Hershey's Dark Chocolate Bars, Hershey's Cookies and Creme Bars, Snickers, Andes mints and Dove Dark Chocolate Bars are tasty substitutes.

"I've also tried to get the different flavored marshmallows -- strawberry and chocolate as well as the jumbo-sized marshmallows," said Berube, who prefers her s'mores "a little charred around the edges."

• A new take on an old favorite: Regular s'mores are fun enough, but try this different take on the campfire classic, courtesy of Oldfield naturalist Marvin Bouknight. This recipe requires a sandwich cooker, which can be found in the camping sections of most big-box retailers. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and margarine until the crumbs hold together. Press the mixture onto each side of the sandwich cooker to form a crust. Fill one side with chips and marshmallows. Cook over hot coals for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently to avoid burning.

• Thinking outside the graham cracker box: Want to take s'mores to the next level? Check out "S'mores: Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion" by Lisa Adams, a writer and camping enthusiast with a sweet tooth. The book is filled with inventive tips for roasting marshmallows and melting chocolate over a campfire, barbecue or gas stovetop. There are more than 60 recipes in her book, each one a variation on the s'mores theme. Some include fresh fruit, others show off warm caramel. Some have almonds, others peanut butter. The book is $16.95 and available at amazon.com and bookstores.

• Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Frosted S'mores toaster pastries: Part of the fun of eating s'mores is making them -- building a fire, toasting the marshmallows, smearing your face with sticky sweetness. Unfortunately you'll get none of that experience using your toaster. But what you sacrifice in authenticity, you make up for in convenience. Cleanup here requires only a napkin, whereas at the campsite you might need a canteen's worth of water to wash off that marshmallow mess. And though making these Pop-Tarts might be pretty joyless, at least that signature s'mores flavor is there.

• Order up: S'mores aren't just relegated to the campfire anymore. Restaurants have been taking their own twists on the dessert, ranging from s'mores sundaes to s'mores fondue. Locally, Frankie Bones on Hilton Head Island features the gooey treat with a do-it-yourself component. Those who order the dessert are given the traditional ingredients, skewers and a miniature grill for roasting the marshmallows.

S'mores Brownies

1 box (1 pound 2.4 ounces) brownie mix

Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box

2 cups miniature marshmallows

4 graham crackers, broken into small pieces

2 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each), cut into 1-inch squares

Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for dark or nonstick pan).

Make brownies as directed. After removing pan from oven, set oven to broil.

Immediately sprinkle marshmallows and graham crackers over warm brownies. Broil about 4 to 5 inches from heat 30 to 60 seconds or until marshmallows are golden brown. (Watch carefully -- marshmallows and graham crackers will brown quickly.) Sprinkle with chocolate candy. To serve warm, first allow the brownies to sit for 30 minutes. Cut into 4-by-4-inch rows.

Recipe from www.BettyCrocker.com

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Stress eating

My fiance and I are preparing for a somewhat unexpected, slighlt rushed move to the great city of Austin. With the pressure of my job ramping up, planning a wedding and this move, I can admit I've been more than a little stressed.

When Emma is stressed, Emma eats...and eats...and eats. I can't stop eating people! Foods I normally wouldn't give a second look have suddenly become as enticing as chocolate to me. What gives?

Do you stress eat? If not, how do you deal with stress?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yummy Lasagna

This lasagna recipe is really good and I know it's tough to think about being in a hot kitchen right now but I was craving something a little more indulgent than my typical summer fare and this really did the trick!

Ingredients

Noodles and Cheese:
1 pound lasagna noodles
16 ounces Parmesan cheese
16 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
16 ounce cottage cheese

Meat Sauce:
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 pound mild sausage
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cream Sauce:
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

Instructions
1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse with hot water. Drain again.
2. To prepare the meat sauce, brown ground beef in a skillet. Add onion and garlic. Drain grease and add sausage, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in oregano, basil, salt, pepper, fennel seed and parsley. Simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
3. To prepare the cream sauce, melt margarine over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook 1 minute. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick.
4. Preheat oven to 375F. To assemble the lasagna, pour 1/3 of meat sauce in bottom of a 15-by-12-inch pan. Lay 6 or 7 noodles over sauce. Pour 1/2 the remaining meat sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 the Parmesan cheese. Add another layer of noddles. Sprinkle on mozzarella. Pour hot cream sauce on top. Layer with remaining noodles, cottage cheese, remaining meat sauce and remaining Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake until cheese melts, about 30 minutes.

Serves 12.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Butter or Margarine? Experts Weigh In

From the Tehran Times...

Butter or margarine? For those who believe butter is healthier because it's “natural,” Congro has bad news. “It's made from animal fat, (so it) contains cholesterol and very high levels of saturated fat,” she says. Margarine is made from vegetable oils, and plant products contain no cholesterol. It's also higher in “good” fats than butter. But some kinds of margarine may be even worse than butter because of their content of trans fats, a particular heart risk. In general, the more solid the margarine, the higher the proportion of trans fat. Steer clear of stick margarine, advises Congro: “Go for the tubs of heart-healthy margarine made with omega-3 oil,”.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Moving to One of the Fittest Cities in America

My fiance and I are moving to Austin! It's always been one of our favorite cities and he's a University of Texas alum so when his dream job popped up and my company gave me the okay to work from home, we jumped at the chance to move there. To be honest, we leaped, kicked, screamed and freaked out at the idea of moving to Austin. Here's what Shape magazine has to say about Austin:


Texans might like things big, but Austinites are significantly less obese than the rest of the country. Austin ranks near the top in terms of city parkland (there are 220 in the area), but it also has a young, highly active community and low rates of chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. One of Austin's features that makes it easy to be active is Lady Bird Lake in the middle of the city. Locals run or walk along the surrounding trail and kayak or row on the lake.

Hot trend in town
Austin is the home of Lance Armstrong, so road cycling is a popular pastime. You can find group rides for every ability year-round through the Austin Cycling Association (austincycling.org).

Residents Report: "Why I love this city!"
"I like being surrounded by lakes, rivers, and parks. I used to row crew at the University of Texas, and I still go sculling on Lake Austin. I'm never alone out there!"
—DARLENE FISKE, 39, public relations executive

Healthiest hotel
Retreat to the Lake Austin Spa Resort for more than 100 indulgent spa services, fitness classes, and activities from stability ball training to stand-up paddle boarding. The innovative, healthy cuisine is prepared from vegetables and herbs harvested from the resort's own organic garden. From $518, including all meals, classes, and activities;lakeaustin.com

Eat here
The 80,000-square-foot Whole Foods (wholefoodsmarket.com) at Sixth St. and Lamar is the company's flagship store, located blocks away from where the chain first began as a small neighborhood grocer three decades ago. There's even an on-site cooking school.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

George Steinbrenner Dies of Heart Attack at Age 80

From webMD...

New York Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner has died from a massive heart attack.

It’s a sad day for baseball lovers everywhere, but celebrity deaths can serve to remind us of the importance of staying on top of our health.

For example, back when Bill Clinton had his first heart scare, doctors reported people showing up in their offices wanting to make sure their heart was ticking along OK. Excellent!

While I don’t know Steinbrenner’s situation, I’d bet there are many people, particularly men, who aren’t exactly up on their health. C’mon guys … admit it. The stereotype of the man who never goes to the doc is pretty darn accurate.

While not all heart attacks can be prevented, there are many things you can do to make a big impact on your chance of dying from the No. 1 cause of death — heart disease.

First, know your heart disease risk factors. What’s your “bad” cholesterol level? Do you know what a normal blood pressure is? Have you been checked for diabetes?

These are things we all should know. And if you don’t, what are you waiting on?

And don’t stop with your heart. Talk to your doc about getting up to date on all the recommended screening tests for men. Yes, even the prostate check!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hearty Halibut

Let's be honest. We could all skip a little red meat each week and replace it with fish. Not only would our waistlines thank us, our hearts would too. This is a great summer recipe that won't have you slaving over a hot stove all evening.


Hearty Halibut From Joan Johnson
Instructions:

Yield: 6 servings
2 lb Fresh or frozen halibut
¾ cups Thinly sliced onion
1 can 4 oz. sliced mushrooms,
¾ cups Chopped fresh or canned
¼ cups Chopped green pepper
3 tablespoon Finely chopped pimento
½ cups Dry white wine
2 tablespoon White vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoon Light margarine
¼ cups Minced parsley
Lemon wedges to garnish



1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare large baking dish with nonstick spray. Cut fish into 6 even servings. Arrange onion in bottom of baking pan.

2. Place fish ontop of onion. Combine the remaining ingredients except margarine and lemon wedges. Spread ontop of fish. Dot with margarine.

3. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Brother and Sister Battle Over Margarine vs. Butter

These kinds of stories are just too bizarre to make up.

A brother and sister in Central Washington were cooking up some macaroni & cheese the other day when the sister inquired as to whether the brother was using butter or margarine in the mac & cheese.

This question somehow turned into a heated exchange, which quickly became physical. The girl ended up attacking her brother with a knife-edged barbecue spatula. What?!!! This is no joke folks.

According to police reports the girl was charged with fourth-degree assault.

If they had simply invited me to their cooking session I would have ensured this incident never happened. Why fight over butter vs. margarine? The choice is clear - margarine wins that battle every time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Banana Ambrosia Dahhhling

Banana Ambrosia makes me feel just like a Southern belle, with my large hat and hoop skirt! If you don't like the coconut, just omit it.

Banana Ambrosia
Instructions:

Yield: 6 servings
3 tablespoon margarine
6 lg Ripe bananas, peeled and
1 Orange, Juice of
1 Orange peeled,pitted & diced
3 tablespoon Brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cups Shredded coconut



1. Melt margarine in a shallow, heat-resistant, non- metallic baking dish in Microwave Oven 30 seconds.
2. Place bananas in baking dish and coat well with butter or margarine. 3. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and pieces and brown sugar until well blended. Spoon over bananas.
4. Heat, uncovered, in Microwave Oven 4 minutes or until bananas are soft and glazed.
5. Just before serving, sprinkle with coconut. Serve either hot or cold.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Margarine and Children's IQ Scores

Okay, so last week I told you all about some silly study alleging that margarine increases the risk of children having asthma. Wrong! Margarine actually reduces the risk of asthma in children.

Today, Ill give you the straight facts in an even more ridiculous study – this study alleges margarine causes children to have lower IQ scores.

The study referenced, which looks at the association between intelligence and diet among a small group of children in New Zealand, should be interpreted with caution – an admission that the researchers note several times in the paper themselves. There are glaring omissions in this study, including the lack of correcting for socioeconomic status among study subjects, no acknowledgment of what foods margarine products were consumed with, and no further specification regarding whether the margarine consumed was in stick form or a spread. The authors’ conclusion that “margarines often contain trans fatty acids” is not consistent with the majority of margarine products sold today. In fact, soft spread margarines, which make up the vast majority of margarine products consumed, are routinely identified as the best nutritional choice. The American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health National Cholesterol Education Program, and the FDA all recommend soft/tub margarine with zero grams of trans fat over butter. Consumer watch groups like the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source echo the recommendation to choose soft spread margarines as a healthier alternative to butter. Not only do today’s soft spread margarines list “zero grams” of trans fat on the Nutrition Facts Panel, they are lower than ever before in calories, total fat and saturated fact. In fact, butter contains up to 40 more calories per serving than most soft spreads; switching to a margarine spread can result in significant calorie savings for daily butter users. Margarine is cholesterol free and provides a dietary source of vitamin E, polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids. Margarine spreads are made from natural vegetable oils, unlike butter, which is made from animal fat.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Margarine Reduces the Risk of Asthma

A few days ago I got an email from reader asking about a study from 2001 that alleged margarine increases children's risk for asthma.

Related to this, a study came out a few days ago indicating children who eat more burgers than vegetables have a higher risk of asthma.

The premise of both of these studies is that trans fat is associated with asthma.

I don't have a scientific background and can't even begin to explain this study relating burgers to asthma. However, because of my background knowledge and professional knowledge of margarine I can explain why the study alleging margarine is related to asthma is completely false.

Other studies have found evidence that consuming margarine actually reduces the risk of developing asthma.

Fats are composed of fatty acids. Several of them are essential in that our bodies cannot manufacture them. Two essential types, which are found in margarine and many other foods, are called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The recommended balanced ration of consumption of omega-6 to omega-3 is 3:1 to 5:1. Unfortunately, the typical Western diet provides the ratio between 10:1 to 30:1. The excess consumption of omega-6 can boost inflammation of body tissues by releasing prostaglandins.

The major sources of omega-6 fatty acids are cereals, whole grains, vegetable oils, baked goods, and eggs. Margarine is not a significant contributor of omega-6 in our diet, and thus is not the “smoking gun” of asthma development.

However, mothers who do not consume enough vitamin E during early pregnancy may run the risk of her fetus not fully developing lung growth and airway inflammation. Margarine products are an excellent source of vitamin E, as are sunflower seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. So, that’s a direct correlation between margarine consumption and the reduced risk of asthma development

Friday, June 11, 2010

10 Must-Do Arm Exercises

With it being bikini season combined with the fact that I'm getting married in less than a year, strength training has become a huge part of my workout routine. While I try to train all of muscles, doing exercises to build arm muscle is by far my favorite. How can you not notice when a woman's arms and shoulders are ripped?!

I do the exercises below twice a week, on non-consecutive days. I've been doing this routine for about three weeks and am already seeing great results. Be sure to add in some cardio 3-4 days as well to torch those calories.

10 arm exercises for sexier shape and strength
It might sound overwhelming at first, but beginning your arm exercise routine is easy – just grab a sturdy chair, a towel and a yoga mat for floor exercises. Then, start with 10 repetitions of each arm exercise, working your way up to 20 repetitions over time. Keep in mind that in order to maximize the benefits of arm exercises and prevent injury, they should be practiced with straight spine and bone movements as well as slow, fluid motions. Eventually you’ll want to do more arm exercises that target the triceps versus the biceps to achieve a sexier overall look to your arms.

1. Double Arm Lift
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and slightly bend your knees. If you don’t have free weights, utilize something around the house like a bag of frozen vegetables, canned food or water bottle as a weight for each hand. Holding the weights in your palms, let your arms drop in front of you and hold your fists about 6 inches away from the tops of your thighs.
Making sure to keep your shoulders down and not scrunched toward your ears, raise your fists to shoulder height, maintaining a straight line throughout your arms. You can do this by imagining there is a board connecting your shoulders to your wrists. Hold this position for 5 seconds, and then lower your fists back to your thighs in one fluid, steady motion.

2. Water Drop
Seated on the edge of a sturdy chair, keep your back in a straight line and constrict your abdominals. Using your water bottle or canned food as weight, lift your arms over your head while holding the weight with both hands. Lower the weight behind your head by bending your elbows until you feel a strong resistance or the weight touches your back. Slowly lift the weight back above your head, keeping your abs tight and your back straight. Repeat.

3. Easy Arm Extensions
Grasp a weight in each hand while keeping your abs tight and your knees slightly bent. With back straight, lower your upper body by hinging your hips forward to about a 45 degree angle from your lower body. Extend your arms back as though you are handing your weights to someone behind you, all without moving your upper arms. Slowly curl your arms back into the starting position and pause before repeating.

4. Easy Curls
Sitting in a chair with a straight back and torso, relax your arms along the side of your body. With your palms facing the ceiling, grip your weights and slowly curl them up and toward your shoulders.
Pause for a few seconds before slowly lowering your arms back down again.

5. Twisted Raise
Stand again with your feet hip-width apart, while slightly bending your knees and holding your weights in the palms of each hand. Let your arms hang naturally by your sides with your palms facing the side of your thigh. Keeping your shoulders down, lift your arms straight out from your sides, keeping them in one vertical plane with the rest of your body. Rotate your arms, turning your palms toward the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds before rolling your palms back toward the floor.

6. Triceps Push-Up
After placing a towel or yoga mat on the floor to prevent slipping, start on your hands and knees. Walk your hands forward and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Extend your spine in a straight line like it is a board connecting your neck to your tailbone. Tuck your elbows back so they stay at your sides and slowly lower your chest toward the floor, keeping your back straight. Keep your body 2 to 4 inches above the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then raise slowly back into the starting position.

7. Triceps Dips
Seated on the edge of a chair, place your hands behind your hips, using your palms to support your body weight. Angle your elbows outward before lowering your hips slowly toward the floor. Keeping your body angled slightly forward, straighten your elbows, but stop the motion before they are completely straightened (do not lock your elbows).
Pressing your weight onto your hands, slowly push yourself back up into the starting position.

8. Slow Row
Sitting on your towel or yoga mat with your legs straight, wrap a T-shirt or towel behind the soles of your feet. Grasping one end of the shirt or towel in each of your hands, push your shoulders and elbows back so that your elbows are behind you. This motion should provide enough resistance to give the shirt or towel a firm stretch. Slowly return to your starting position and pause for a few seconds between repetitions.

9. Plank
Lie face down on your towel or mat with your palms shoulder-width apart and your toes digging slightly into the floor. Breathing in deeply, push your entire body (except for your toes) off the floor. Constricting your abs, keep your back straight and balance all of your body weight on your arms and feet. Breathing normally, keep your back horizontal and maintain the position steadily for 20 seconds. Slowly lower your body to the floor and rest before repeating.

10. Sun Lift
Lie on your back. With your arms outstretched to your sides, lie on your towel or mat and grasp your weights with the palms of your hands facing up. Keeping your arms straight, constrict your abs and then lift your arms to meet one another above your chest. Breathe normally and hold this position for 10 seconds. Slowly lower your arms to starting position.

The Total Arm Workout
Because biceps are seen as the heavy-lifters of the arm muscle group, they often get all the attention when it comes to arm exercise. However, when the triceps are neglected, they become a haven for fat, creating that stubborn flab that plagues many women as they grow older. Even more importantly, if shoulders are neglected while performing arm exercises, the arms build muscle that cannot be supported by the rest of the frame, which can cause serious neck and back problems. The tips and benefits of arm exercises are only fully taken advantage of when used in a rotation that develops biceps, triceps and shoulders altogether. To fully maximize the benefits of these arm exercises, combine them with strength training of your other muscle groups like your core and lower body, along with aerobic activity and a nutritious diet. Achieving a long, lean look for your arms does not happen overnight. There is no quick exercise that will make you look fabulous in a few days. Attaining your perfection of body beautiful may take months, so make the commitment and be consistent and you will discover sexy arms in sleeveless tops once again.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Just like the Song! Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients:

• 1 1/2 cups milk

• 1/3 cup margarine

• 5 cups flour

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 2 Tablespoons yeast

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

• 1/4 teaspoon cloves

• 2 eggs

• 1/2 cup currants or candied fruit mix

• 1 egg white, lightly beaten

• 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

• 1 to 2 Tablespoons water

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter or margarine over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is just warm and butter or margarine is melted. In a large mixer bowl, stir together 2 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Gradually add liquid; beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Beat in eggs. With a spoon, stir in currants or candied fruit and enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until double (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours).

Punch dough down. Divide into 4 equal parts. Cut each part into 6 equal parts. Shape each piece into a ball. place about 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Cut a cross on top of each ball with a sharp knife. Cover; let rise until double. Brush lightly beaten egg white over the tops of buns. Bake at 350∞F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly.

Mix powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in additional water if needed. Drizzle over cooked rolls.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Update to My Fish Tacos Post

Let me just tell you that those grilled tacos were really good and even easier than they look...which is crazy but it looks insanely easy.

The taste is light and not too overwhelming but nicely flavors the tilapia, which to me doesn't really have a taste at all.

The one change I made was to lightly spread some soft margarine on the corn tortillas before toasting on the grill and it gave the tortilla that extra flavor that takes the tacos from good to great!

Hope you all had an amazing Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fish Tacos to Kick Off the Heat Season

Summertime to me, equates to barbecuing and pool parties. I know what you're thinking - "Emma, it's only Memorial Day. We still have almost a month until summer starts." I know, I know, but who really pays attention that rule?

For most people Memorial Day weekend kicks off three months of heat, itty bitty bathing suits (women only, I hope!) and some fine grillin' outdoors.

The boy and I will be testing out these fish tacos from Hungry Girl this weekend. Don't they look delectable and light? I'll let you know how they taste! What's your fave grilling recipe?


Grilled Go Fish! Soft Tacos

PER SERVING (2 tacos, 1/2 of recipe): 273 calories, 5.75g fat, 330mg sodium, 30g carbs, 5g fiber, 5g sugars, 27g protein -- POINTS® value 5*

We LOVE these things and DEFINITELY recommend going for the optional fruit salsa topping. Mmmmm!



Ingredients:

For Tacos
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. salt
Two 4-oz. raw tilapia fillets (or other flaky white fish)
Four 6-inch corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cabbage or dry coleslaw mix
1/4 cup chopped tomato

For Avocado Cream
2 tbsp. mashed avocado
2 tbsp. fat-free sour cream
1/2 tsp. lime juice
Dash garlic powder, or more to taste
Dash chili powder, or more to taste
Dash salt, or more to taste

Optional topping: fruity salsa

Directions:
Combine lime juice and spices for the tacos in a large bowl, and mix well. Add fillets and evenly cover both sides of each with seasoned lime juice. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for avocado cream in a small bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spray a grill or grill pan with nonstick spray and bring to medium heat. Grill fish for 5 minutes, and then very carefully flip. Grill for 3 more minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside.

Heat tortillas on the grill or grill pan until warm and just slightly toasted, about 1 minute per side. Plate and spread evenly with avocado cream. Break fish into pieces and evenly divide among tortillas. Top with cabbage, tomatoes and, if you like, some fruity salsa. Fold and enjoy!

MAKES 2 SERVINGS

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pretty in Pistachio

I am a huge fan of pistachio. I remember watching my grandfather shell those suckers at an alarming speed while never once taking his eyes off the college football team on TV. It was an art form, I gotta tell ya. I don't have the dexterity nor the caluses on my fingers. But still, I love pistachios.

Now, it turns out that pistachios may join the pack of nuts when it comes to heart health benefits. Hoorah!

A recent study found that a handful of nuts, including pistachios can help lower the bad LDL cholesterol and raises level of the good HDL cholesterol. Just one more reason to eat those little bags of nuts on the airplane.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Frying Pan Fudge Recipe

Mmmmmm, need I say more? This recipe is killer on my hips and thighs but frankly my dear, I don't give damn.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick margarine
6 oz. canned milk
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecans or other nuts
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring

Instructions
Chop nuts and set aside. Mix sugar, margarine, and milk together in a heavy frying pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook six more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and add chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Stir until fudge begins to form. Then quickly add vanilla flavoring. Drop fudge on wax paper with a teaspoon. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Friday, May 07, 2010

I'm Baaaaaack!

Wow, it has been forever since I've posted to this delightful blog! Before you blame me, the lack of posting was due to some issues I was having with Blogger and for once, it actually wasn't my fault! Wahoo!

Anyways, this isn't one of those blogs that suddently drops off the face of the earth and it has killed me not being able to post for the past few weeks. Internet, we have so much catching up to do!

I've got lots of health news, random trivia and even some cool recipes (with margarine of course!) coming down the pipeline so be sure to check back next week. Until then, happy almost weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Sweet Things in Life

You all know that I try until my heart's content to eat healthy, exercise and live a fairly balanced lifestyle. I mean, my blog is called "I Heart Margarine" so obviously I strive to live a heart healthy lifestyle.

Needless to say that while I strive to be good 90% of the time, I have no problem, and actually relish in the other 10% of the time, when I can be free to do whatever the heck I want! Steak? Yes please! Glass of vino? Oh, yeah! Sleeping until 10 on a Saturday? Now we're talking?

What is YOUR favorite indulgence?

I have so many that I love but I think my absolute favorite is a pepperoni pizza from Papa John's, a large root beer and a stackful of chick flicks. You just can't top that. Oh, and there's no smooshing the napkin on the pizza to reduce the grease. Instead, I dip those heart slices in full-fat ranch dressing.

Indulge my dear readers, indulge!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Glug That Water, Baby!

I know how important it is to drink water. Besides the fact that it's necessary for basic survival, it helps give you energy, curbs your appetite and has benefits for your skin and face. Yes, I get that.

My problem is I have seriously hard time actually drinking the recommended 6-8 glasses every day. I honestly just get distracted with work or errands or whatever I'm doing and don't pick up my water bottle. Here's some great tips from Self.com on how to incorporate more water into your daily routine. I'm trying all of these tips this week.


1. Drink through a straw. Old trick, but totally works. If I drank Corona this way, I'd be in trouble.

2. Add a bit of flavor. I add fresh mint (from my herb garden) and a bit of lemon to a pitcher of water and stick it in the refrigerator. If I close my eyes and try really hard I can convince myself it's a Mojito. Or at least a distant cocktail cousin. Cucumber would be a good add too.

3. Freeze a bottle of water. I keep one in the freezer at all times and bring it with me if I'm doing errands. Even if I leave it into the car while I run into the grocery store, it melts slowly and stays refreshingly cold. Make sure to use a BPA-free bottle, though. We love the Sigg Om.

4. Eat waterlogged fruits and veggies. Watermelon, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and oranges top my list. Salads are also a great choice. Sunday marked the opening of my local farmer's market so I picked up some beets and asparagus to make this Beet and Asparagus Salad. Seriously yum. Will have leftovers for lunch today--liquid lunch, literally.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Yummy Dish for the Dogs...For Real!

This recipe is a little different than most of the recipes I post. How? Well, it's for your favorite four-legged friend named Fiedo.

These dog biscuits are loved by my two adorable Laboradors, Bella and Luna, and I'm sure your pup will love them too. Plus, they've got margarine in them...shameless plug, sorry!


Doggie Biscuits
Instructions:

Yield: 12 servings
2¼ cups Flour, whole wheat
½ cups Powdered milk
½ teaspoon Salt
6 tablespoon Margarine
1 Egg; beaten
1 tablespoon Brown sugar
½ cups Ice water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix four, milk powder and sugar. Cut in shortening until mixture looks like cornmeal. Add egg. Add ice water. Form into ball.

Pat out to ½ inch thickness on oiled ( I used Pam) cookie sheet. Use doggie biscuit cutter to cut out shapes, or make your own shapes. Cook 25 to 30 minutes. Hope your puppy likes the biscuits!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chocolate May Be Good For the Heart

This is music to my ears!!


Small, dark Easter eggs may be good for your heart
9:44am EDT
By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - Easter eggs may be good for you, but only if you eat small ones made from cocoa-rich dark chocolate, according to the latest in a string of scientific studies to show potential health benefits of chocolate.

German researchers studied more than 19,300 people over a decade and found those who ate the most chocolate -- an average of 7.5 grams a day -- had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke than those who ate the least amount of chocolate -- an average of 1.7 grams a day.

But, the difference between the two groups was just under six grams (6g) of chocolate a day, less than one small square of an average 100g bar, they wrote in a study in the European Heart Journal to be published on Wednesday.

Brian Buijsse of the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, who led the study, said people should not use his work as an excuse to stuff themselves with chocolate.

"Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense food, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable," he said.

Although they said more work needed to be done to be sure, the researchers think the flavanols in cocoa may be the reason why chocolate seems to be good for blood pressure and heart health -- and since there is more cocoa in dark chocolate, dark chocolate may have a greater effect.

VEGETABLES, WINE AND COCOA

Flavanols are a class of the antioxidant flavonoids that are found in many vegetables, cocoa and red wine.

"Flavanols appear to be ... responsible for improving the bioavailability of nitric oxide from the cells that line the inner wall of blood vessels," said Buijsse.

Nitric oxide is a gas that, once released, causes the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels to relax and widen, he said, adding that this may contribute to lower blood pressure.

For their chocolate study, the researchers used data from participants of a larger study called European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC).

They followed more than 19,300 over more than 10 years during which time their blood pressure, height and weight measurements as well as details of their diet, lifestyle and health were recorded.

Buijsse said put in terms of absolute risk, the findings showed that if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate increased their chocolate intake by six grams a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years.

Commenting on the study on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology, Frank Ruschitzka of Switzerland's University Hospital Zurich said basic science had now demonstrated "quite convincingly" that dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70 percent reduces some kinds of stress and can improve blood flow and blood pressure.

But he said: "Before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100 grams ... contains roughly 500 calories.

"You may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories by cutting back on other foods to avoid weight gain."

Chocolate May Be Good For the Heart

This is music to my ears!!


Small, dark Easter eggs may be good for your heart
9:44am EDT
By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - Easter eggs may be good for you, but only if you eat small ones made from cocoa-rich dark chocolate, according to the latest in a string of scientific studies to show potential health benefits of chocolate.

German researchers studied more than 19,300 people over a decade and found those who ate the most chocolate -- an average of 7.5 grams a day -- had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke than those who ate the least amount of chocolate -- an average of 1.7 grams a day.

But, the difference between the two groups was just under six grams (6g) of chocolate a day, less than one small square of an average 100g bar, they wrote in a study in the European Heart Journal to be published on Wednesday.

Brian Buijsse of the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, who led the study, said people should not use his work as an excuse to stuff themselves with chocolate.

"Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense food, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable," he said.

Although they said more work needed to be done to be sure, the researchers think the flavanols in cocoa may be the reason why chocolate seems to be good for blood pressure and heart health -- and since there is more cocoa in dark chocolate, dark chocolate may have a greater effect.

VEGETABLES, WINE AND COCOA

Flavanols are a class of the antioxidant flavonoids that are found in many vegetables, cocoa and red wine.

"Flavanols appear to be ... responsible for improving the bioavailability of nitric oxide from the cells that line the inner wall of blood vessels," said Buijsse.

Nitric oxide is a gas that, once released, causes the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels to relax and widen, he said, adding that this may contribute to lower blood pressure.

For their chocolate study, the researchers used data from participants of a larger study called European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC).

They followed more than 19,300 over more than 10 years during which time their blood pressure, height and weight measurements as well as details of their diet, lifestyle and health were recorded.

Buijsse said put in terms of absolute risk, the findings showed that if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate increased their chocolate intake by six grams a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years.

Commenting on the study on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology, Frank Ruschitzka of Switzerland's University Hospital Zurich said basic science had now demonstrated "quite convincingly" that dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70 percent reduces some kinds of stress and can improve blood flow and blood pressure.

But he said: "Before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100 grams ... contains roughly 500 calories.

"You may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories by cutting back on other foods to avoid weight gain."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Nuts and Butter Spreads Keep Cholesterol in Check

Love this quickie article from the Irish Independent on lowering your cholesterol. Nuts are a great way to stave off hunger, ad healthy fats to the diet and possible, lower your cholesterol. Soft margarine products (also known as "buttery spreads") can help too!


Health bits: Nuts can help crack cholesterol
High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease but regular consumption of nuts can help, according to a study, although the results are modest.

Walnuts and almonds seem beneficial. But nuts are high in calories, so limit yourself to a handful a day, experts say.

Also, recent years have seen the introduction of margarine-like spreads and other foods fortified with cholesterol-lowering plant compounds. Exercise and medications are also key to controlling cholesterol.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Fit Zone

I just found this awesome new exercise tool from MSN.com that allows you to select a body part you would like to tone, and the tool gives you a list of exercises that target that body part.

I chose to start with my glutes because let's just say I have a little more weight on my backside than I deem necessary. It give me a list of at least 15 exercises, complete with a description on how to do the move and pictures breaking down the sequence. This rocks!

The Fit Zone

Friday, March 12, 2010

In Honor of My Cajun Honey

Great news - I got engaged on Wednesday! It's all still kind of a shock and I'll post details at a later date but in honor of my Cajun soon-to-be husband, who's from Homa, LA, I'm posting this yummy Creole Jambalaya recipe. It's devine!


Ingredients
2 tablespoons margarine
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham,
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
3/4 cup water
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

Instructions
1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Add onion, celery, green pepper, parsley and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. Add ham, tomatoes, broth, water, rice, sugar, thyme, chili powder and pepper. Cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Add shrimp, and simmer until shrimp are thoroughly cooked, about 5 minutes. Serves 8.

Tips From Our Test Kitchen:
This recipe can be seasoned according to taste. Hot sauce can be added to make it fiery. Smoked sausage can substitute for the ham if desired.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

How to Ensure a Healthy Heart

Larry King, Jr., President of the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, offers tips to ensure a healthy heart

Friday, March 05, 2010

Avoiding Weekend Weight Gain

I don't know about you but my diet stinks like a dirty sock on the weekend. After five days of exercising, shoving as many fruits and vegetables down my throat as possible and chugging gallons of water, by Friday evening I'm ready for some indulgences.

Here are a few tips from About.com on how to eat healthy during the weekend. TGIF!!!

Oh, and one tip from me: make the switch from butter to margarine for an easy way to make your meals healthier.


Plan ahead
Don't load up your kitchen with lots of tempting, high-calorie snacks. Keep fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grain crackers and your favorite cheese on-hand for nutritious snacking.

Don't skip breakfast
Start Saturday and Sunday mornings with a healthy breakfast with plenty of protein and fiber. Good choices include eggs, whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, or whole-wheat toast with peanut butter.

Use a food diary every day
A great way to stay motivated to eat a healthy diet is to keep track of the foods you eat. Print out your own food diary, or use Calorie Count, a free online tool that can help you track your eating and activity (you can even look up food labels).

Give yourself a small treat or two during the week
Any diet that leaves you feeling deprived will ultimately fail. Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate or one scoop of ice cream during the week.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
They are low in calories, and high in nutrients and fiber. Fiber is key -- it will keep you feeling full.

Eat less at restaurants
Going out for dinner? Most restaurants serve very large portions. Choose a soup and a salad, or a salad and an appetizer for your meal. If you order a large meal, take half of it home for a delicious lunch the next day.

Be careful with shopping trips
Eat a healthy lunch before you go to the mall. If you go hungry, you are much more likely to give in to the temptation of unhealthy foods at the food court.

Get some exercise each day
Go for a walk. Not only will you burn calories, the exercise will improve your mood and may distract you from your cravings.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brain Freeze!!

It’s been an uber-crazy week at work so I’m not even going to attempt to write a blog post that’s informative, creative or interesting. No, instead, I’m going to provide you with some random facts me (Emma!) and really, any other statements that pop into my head.

Apologize in advance for the randomness of this post. Feel free to commence banging your head on the desk now.

-Every day at around 3:30 p.m., my becomes flushed…very flushed. Doesn’t matter the temperature outside, what I’m doing – my face is going to look like a beet. My doctor says it’s perfectly normal and not to worry but I gotta admit, on the occasion I glance in the mirror around that time period, YIKES!!!! It’s not pretty.

-I am completely OBSESSED with Baskin-Robbins sugar-free cookies and cream candies. If you haven’t tried these suckers, run to Walgreens right now and pick some up. Run, I said!

-I hate taking baths. The tub is uncomfortable, the water gets cold and I feel like I’m sitting in my own filth. Ick.

-On average, it takes me about six hours to read an issue of Women’s Health magazine. It is by far my favorite publication (I’m very deep, obviously) and I like to savor it like a fine wine.

-I hate pop music but have a special place in my heart for Rob Thomas songs. I dunno…

-Painting my nails gives me an instant “I rock” feeling. It’s a simple as that.

-Sundays, yes Sundays, are my favorite day of the week. It’s a day for brunching, lounging and over-consumption and that suits me just fine.

It’s almost Friday people!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Pressure is Boiling

I went to the doctor for a routine check-up yesterday and was shocked to find out that I have fairly high blood pressure for someone of my age and size. I exercise and eat a heart healthy diet to stay at a healthy weight and I'm only 27 - what gives?

Apparently my mother's high blood pressure has cursed me as well. I never knew high blood pressure was hereditary! In the coming weeks, I'm going to take several steps to naturally lower my blood pressure, including following the DASH diet. As always, I'll rely on margarine to cut out saturated fat in the diet. I'll post more on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet later this week.

Here are some tips from the well-respected Mayo Clinic on ways to lower high blood pressure without medication:

1. Lose those extra pounds and watch your waistline
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Losing just 10 pounds can help reduce your blood pressure significantly. In general, the more weight you lose, the lower your blood pressure. Losing weight also makes any blood pressure medications you're taking more effective.

Besides shedding pounds, you should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure. In general, men are considered at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters, or cm). And women, in general, are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (88 cm). However, for people of Asian descent, men are considered at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 36 inches (90 cm), and women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 32 inches (80 cm).

You and your doctor can determine your target weight and the best way to achieve it. Your doctor might recommend that you eat healthier foods, exercise and change self-defeating behaviors, such as late-night snacking or big servings at meals.

2. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity — at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). And it doesn't take long to see a difference. If you've been sedentary, increasing your activity can lower your blood pressure within just a few weeks.

If you have prehypertension, exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.

Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program tailored to your needs and medical conditions. Your doctor can help determine whether you need any exercise restrictions. Even moderate activity for 10 minutes at a time, such as walking and light strength training, can help.

But avoid being a "weekend warrior." Trying to squeeze all your exercise in on the weekends to make up for weekday inactivity isn't a good strategy. If you have uncontrolled hypertension or heart problems, those sudden bursts of activity could actually be risky.

3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. This eating plan is known as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

It isn't easy to change your eating habits, but with these tips, you can adopt a healthy diet:

■Evaluate your eating style. Keep a food diary, even for just a week, to assess your eating patterns and habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why. This can shed surprising light on your true eating habits.
■Consider boosting potassium. While most Americans get too much sodium, which increases their blood pressure, they often get too little potassium. Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements. Some packaged food products list potassium on the labels. Talk to your doctor about the potassium level that's best for you.
■Be a smart consumer. Make a shopping list before heading to the supermarket to avoid picking up junk food. Read food labels when you shop, and stick to your healthy-eating plan when you're dining out, too.
■Cut yourself some slack. Although the DASH diet is a lifelong eating guide, it doesn't mean you have to cut out all of the foods you love. It's OK to treat yourself occasionally to foods you wouldn't find on a DASH diet menu, like a candy bar or mashed potatoes with gravy.

If you're craving something sweet, reaching for dark chocolate may be a good way to indulge without risk of raising your blood pressure. Research suggests that flavonol, a substance found in cocoa beans and dark chocolate, may improve blood flow and lower your blood pressure. But, even the healthiest chocolate adds calories to your diet, so treat yourself sparingly.

4. Reduce sodium in your diet
Even a modest reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. And bigger cutbacks mean greater reductions in blood pressure. To decrease sodium in your diet, consider these tips:

■Calculate your sodium consumption. Keep a food diary to estimate how much sodium you consume each day. You may be surprised at how much you're taking in. Most healthy adults need only between 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. But if you have high blood pressure, are older than 50, are black, or have such chronic conditions as heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes, you may be more sensitive to sodium. In that case, aim for less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
■Read food labels. Look at the sodium content before you buy. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives. Even some foods you think are healthy, such as some vegetable juices, may contain surprisingly high amounts of sodium.
■Eat fewer processed foods. Potato chips, frozen dinners and cured meats, such as bacon and processed lunch meats, are high in sodium.
■Don't add salt. Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices, rather than salt, to add more flavor to your foods.
■Ease into it. If you don't feel like you can drastically reduce your sodium consumption suddenly, cut back gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.
■Eat more fresh foods. Fruits, vegetables and unprocessed grains contain little sodium.
■Check your water softener. Water softeners are sometimes a hidden source of sodium in your water at home — although cold water to the kitchen often isn't softened. If your water softener adds a lot of sodium to the water you drink, you might want to consider switching to a different water-purification system or buying demineralized water for drinking and cooking.

5. Limit alcohol consumption
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can help prevent heart attacks and coronary artery disease and potentially lower your blood pressure by 2.5 to 4 mm Hg. But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol — generally more than one drink a day for women and more than two a day for men.

If you drink more than moderate amounts of it, alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications.

■Track your drinking patterns. Along with your food diary, keep an alcohol diary to track your true drinking patterns. One drink equals one 12-ounce (355 milliliters or mL) beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine (148 mL) or one 1.5-ounce of 80-proof distilled spirits (30 mL). If you're drinking more than the suggested amounts, cut back.
■Consider tapering off. If you're a heavy drinker, suddenly eliminating all alcohol can actually trigger severe hypertension for several days. So when you stop drinking, do it with the supervision of your doctor or taper off slowly, over one to two weeks.
■Don't binge. Binge drinking — having four or more drinks in a row — can cause large and sudden increases in blood pressure, in addition to other health problems. Don't abstain during the week and make up for it on the weekend.
6. Avoid tobacco products and secondhand smoke
On top of all the other dangers of smoking, the nicotine in tobacco products can raise your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg or more for up to an hour after you smoke. Smoking throughout the day means your blood pressure may remain constantly high. In addition, chemicals in tobacco can damage your arteries and cause fluid retention, both of which can raise your blood pressure. And like alcohol, tobacco products can interfere with the effectiveness of your blood pressure medications.

Also, avoid secondhand smoke. Inhaling smoke from others also puts you at risk of health problems, including high blood pressure and heart disease.

7. Cut back on caffeine
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debatable. Drinking caffeinated beverages can temporarily cause a spike in your blood pressure. And some studies show that people who drink caffeine regularly have a higher average blood pressure, suggesting that caffeine might have a long-term impact. But other studies show you can develop a tolerance to caffeine so that it doesn't affect your blood pressure.

To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage you regularly drink. If your blood pressure increases by five to 10 points, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine.

Regardless of your sensitivity to caffeine's effects, doctors recommend you drink no more than 200 milligrams a day — about the amount in two cups of coffee.

8. Reduce your stress
As with caffeine, the influence of stress on blood pressure isn't settled. Stress or anxiety can temporarily increase blood pressure.

You need to know what stresses you before you can try to reduce your stress. Take some time to think about what causes you to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what's causing your stress, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress.

If you can't eliminate all of your stressors, you can at least cope with them in a healthier way. Take breaks for deep-breathing exercises. Get a massage or take up yoga or meditation. If self-help doesn't work, seek out a professional for counseling. Try meditation or ask your doctor about purchasing a machine that helps teach slow deep breathing.

9. Get regular health care
If you have high blood pressure, you may need to monitor your blood pressure at home. Learning to self-monitor your blood pressure with an upper arm monitor can help motivate you. Talk to your doctor about home monitoring. Make sure you ask about what size arm cuff you should use and what time of day you should measure your blood pressure. Also, a record of your blood pressure readings helps your doctor know if your medications are working or if they need to be adjusted.

Regular visits to your doctor are also likely to become a part of your normal routine. These visits will help keep tabs on your blood pressure - and ensure that you don't neglect other health concerns.

■Have a primary care doctor. People who don't have a primary care doctor find it harder to control their blood pressure. If you can, visit the same health care facility or professional for all of your health care needs.
■Visit your doctor regularly. If your blood pressure isn't well controlled, or if you have other medical problems, you might need to visit your doctor every month to review your treatment and make adjustments. If your blood pressure is under control, you might need to visit your doctor only every six to 12 months, depending on other conditions you might have. People who have frequent blood pressure checks at their doctor's office are more likely to control their blood pressure than are those who go a year or more between visits.

10. Get a support system
Supportive family and friends can help improve your health. They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor's office or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low.

Talk to your family and friends about the dangers of high blood pressure. If they understand the potential complications of uncontrolled high blood pressure, they're more likely to support your efforts to change unhealthy lifestyle habits.

If you find you need support beyond your family and friends, consider joining a support group. This may put you in touch with people who can give you an emotional or morale boost, and who can offer practical tips to cope with your condition.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Importance of Recovery Days in a Fitness Routine

I am not what most people would call in “peak physical shape.” Sure, I watch what I eat and try my best to consume a heart healthy diet (including margarine, fruits & veggies, nuts, lean proteins, fish, etc.). But, at the same time I do love me some chocolate, ice cream and other sweet delights. I’m at a normal weight for my height and plan to stay that way through diet and exercise.

Here’s the thing though – I exercise six out of the seven days a week. One would assume my body would be ripped and void of any fat. Nope. Not even close. I do 45 minutes of cardio every day and strength train for 20-30 minutes three to four days a week. So, what the heck am I doing wrong?

Well, apparently my consistent exercise routine is actually the problem. You see, because my body is constantly strained, I am not giving my muscles any time to repair, and thus, become stronger. My strict exercise regime is actually hindering my healthy lifestyle. Whodathunk?!!

So, starting this week I am going to build recovery days into my schedule. According to this article from About.com

"Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is
the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training
effect takes place. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and
repair damaged tissues. Exercise or any other physical work causes changes in
the body such as muscle tissue breakdown and the depletion of energy stores
(muscle glycogen) as well as fluid loss.

Recovery time allows these stores to be replenished and allows tissue repair to occur. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise. Symptoms of overtraining often occur from a lack of recovery time. Signs of overtraining include a feeling of general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased sports performance and increased risk of injury, among others."

Thoughts? Opinions? I’d love to hear ‘em.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bill Clinton's Health Scare

After feeling chest pains and mild discomfort for several days, Bill Clinton decided to check himself into a New York hospital on Wednesday. Back in 2004, Clinton underwent quadruple bypass surgery. According to this doctor, the discomfort Clinton recently experienced was due to clogged arteries ,and the situation was remedied by inserting two stents, which open the arteries to improve blood flow.



Clinton's health problems date back to a lifetime of junk food. In addition, Clinton's schedule has become increasingly hectic with the many humanitarian efforts he has taken on, including relief in Haiti.



Heart problems like Clinton's cann't be solved by a surgery or by stents. This will take a lifetime of maintenance and care.



But, Clinton should really focus on improving his diet. For instance, start incorporating margarine into the diet. Choose whole grains over white, processed items. Fill each plate with fruits and vegetables and use meat as a "meal addition."



Simple steps like these will help ensure Clinton is around to continue his heroic efforts to those in need. Oh, and taking a breather every once in a while probably wouldn't hurt him either!



TGIF people, TGIF!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lifestyle changes for teens critical in light of research about teens' heart disease risk

Lifestyle changes for teens critical in light of research about teens' heart disease risk
Simple ways teens can combat high cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease; initiate small incremental changes during American Heart Month

WASHINGTON, DC (February 2, 2010) – Pamphlets detailing the warning signs associated with heart disease may soon end up in an unexpected location: your child's pediatrician's office. According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five American teens has at least one risk factor for developing heart disease in adulthood.

With heart health front-and-center this month in honor of American Heart Month, most media coverage will focus on at-risk adults. But that's a mistake according to Sarah Wally, a dietitian with the National Association for Margarine Manufacturers.

"Although heart disease is typically diagnosed in adulthood, its roots often begin in childhood," says Wally. "Heart disease is the result of a lifelong process and intervention strategies to reduce risk should begin as early as possible."

The new CDC report, released earlier this year, highlights the need to intervene early. The report reveals that twenty percent of children and teens in the U.S. have an abnormal lipid profile – a sign of high triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol or high levels of bad cholesterol – and a strong marker for future heart disease risk.

Small changes in daily habits are the key to helping young Americans modify their risk of heart disease, according to Wally. "Incremental changes in diet and exercise habits are much more effective and successful over the long term," she says. "Something as simple as swapping from butter to a soft spread margarine can have a lasting impact in improving the nutritional quality of your diet."

An easy substitution like using soft spread margarines (also known as buttery spreads) instead of butter over a week's time can cut an entire day's worth of saturated fat, not to mention up to 40 calories per serving, Wally says. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), saturated fat raises blood cholesterol more than anything else. Eating less saturated fat can lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease.

Switching to buttery spreads is also in keeping with expert advice to move toward a plant-based diet. Because they are made from healthy plant oils, buttery spreads have no cholesterol and significantly less saturated fat than butter, which is made from animal fat. It's a healthy change that is recommended by leading health groups, including the American Heart Association. The scientific literature also supports the change: One groundbreaking study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that making the simple switch from butter to soft margarine spreads lowered levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol by nine percent in children and eleven percent in adults.

Teens can find a myriad of opportunities to make similar healthful changes throughout the day to promote heart health. Switching from 2% to 1% milk, swapping out white bread in favor of whole grain, and finishing each meal with a serving of fruit are fast and easy ways to improve your diet. Similarly, incremental bursts of activity – even just 15 minutes in length – are a great way to reach a daily activity goal of 60 minutes on days when blocking-out a full hour is not feasible.


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For more information on additional healthy habits that can lower heart disease risk, please visit www.healthyfridge.org.